Review – Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins

The moment I saw the trailer for the incredibly named Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins on the official Playstation YouTube channel, I immediately expected it to be this year’s “that one game”. You know, “that one game” that makes us think what the hell was Sony thinking when promoting it on its official channel, just like Life of Black Tiger in 2017 and Flowers Are Dead in 2019.

It looked like the cheapest, dumbest game you could possibly imagine. A generic bear asset from the Unity store jumping around in uninspired levels comprised of maybe half a dozen different assets splattered all over the screen ad nauseum. I had to give it a try. I’m glad I did. I’m impressed! It’s exponentially better than I could have ever predicted, although, let’s be real, it’s still not exactly a good game…

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Beautiful art design.

I don’t know what surprised me the most about Epic Dumpster Bear 2; its unbelievably idiotic (and hopefully, totally self-aware) premise, its presentation, or the fact that it had a predecessor that was successfully enough to warrant a sequel. This is a 2.5D platformer in which you control an apparently intelligent bear tasked with destroying evil corporations that have destroyed its natural habitat. I really don’t think the plot was created in order to be something positively memorable, as it ended up being nothing more than an excuse for a laugh or two, especially after a boss battle against a bipedal cow that can shoot Hadoukens at you. You read that right, and yes, I was sober and wearing my glasses.

The presentation… oh dear. Besides the fact that it actually runs at a very stable 60 frames per second, there’s no way I can praise it. It’s hideous. It’s absolutely disgusting to look at. The game’s “art style”, if you can even call it that, is comprised of half a dozen pre-made engine store assets being repeatedly copied and pasted throughout its many levels, with little sense of cohesion. At one point, you’ll be walking on platforms while fighting red wasps and jumping barrels, all while being visually bombarded with a background picture of a lava pool. Your bear character is the most detailed visual asset in this entire game and I’m pretty sure zoo simulators from the 2000s had a better model.

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Yes, that is a cow throwing a Hadouken. I don’t think I need to say anything else.

The sound department is as good as the game’s visual presentation. The soundtrack is comprised of a handful of riffs being repeated every fifteen to twenty seconds. They sound like the most generic mid-2000s rock riffs you could possibly think of, something a mediocre band like Theory of a Madman or Saving Abel would compose for a B-side of one of their hit singles. As for sound effects, I don’t think there are even half a dozen of them included in the entire game.

Considering Epic Dumpster Bear 2‘s overall presentation, you would expect for a game like this to play as terribly as it looks. That’s what surprised me the most about it: it doesn’t. Before you jump into any further conclusions, let me clarify that I just mean it was a lot better than my near negative expectations regarding its controls and overall level design. It’s bad, but it’s not that bad.

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If this isn’t Oscar-worthy storytelling, then I don’t know what is.

Epic Dumpster Bear 2 is obviously influenced by Super Mario World and Super Meat Boy. It features controls that are clearly meant to emulate Mario’s first SNES outing, with some power-ups scattered through levels, level-ending gates that give you extra points the closer you land onto the designated target, as well as the occasional secret exit that can lead you to more challenging extra courses. On the other hand, the Meat Boy influences are clearly seen due to the game forcing you to have twitch-like reflexes to avoid death traps that are scattered everywhere. It almost works.

The problem with the gameplay is that Epic Dumpster Bear 2 doesn’t feature precise controls, which are a must for a game like this. There is a slight yet noticeable amount of input lag whenever you perform a jump or try to attack an enemy. You will die a few times due to control-related issues, and not only due to your own mistakes. There are also some camera issues, especially when the game decides to zoom in your character, forcing you to perform some leaps of faith, only to land immediately onto the bottom of a pit or a death trap.

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Yeah, they really want to emphasize the DUMPSTER in “Dumpster Bear”…

With all that being said, I was expecting for Epic Dumpster Bear 2 to be a complete disaster, but it isn’t. It’s a mediocre platformer with some good ideas, and even some well-designed levels, that also features one of the absolutely worst visuals from this entire generation of consoles. I really don’t know who this game is for. It’s clearly not meant to be taken seriously, but in no moment did this game make me chuckle. It’s also not polished enough to entice platforming enthusiasts. It’s a game that’s just there, not being terrible enough to be remembered as an utter joke, but also far from being good enough for me to recommend it to anyone out there.

 

Graphics: 2.0

It runs at a steady 60fps, so that’s a positive worth mentioning. The rest of the graphical department is a complete and utter disaster, whether it was intentional or not.

Gameplay: 6.0

Fast-paced platforming that isn’t as terrible as the game’s overall presentation might suggest. The level design is occasionally good, but often undercooked. The main problem is that the game features a bit of input lag, making some of the platforming more challenging than it should.

Sound: 3.0

There isn’t a lot in the sound department besides a handful of small loops comprised of mediocre rock riffs that sound like something a band like Theory of a Deadman would write for a B-side.

Fun Factor: 5.0

Even if the presentation is an absolute atrocity, there’s a bit of fun to be had with the challenging level design, as well as the secret exits in some stages. Sadly, the controls aren’t as precise as they should, so the game feels more unfair than challenging at many times.

Final Verdict: 4.5

Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins is available now on PS4.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins was provided by the publisher.